Boeing’s Starliner’s first orbital flight test has taken an unexpected turn, as the craft was supposed to launch an uncrewed mission to the ISS on Friday but it didn’t enter the right orbit. Therefore, Starliner headed back to Earth and landed on Sunday morning.
According to Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division, the issues during the test were a consequence of a timing matter which eventually led to the wrong positioning of the craft. Instead of connecting to the Atlas V rocket, something went wrong and the situation became very confusing leading the system to believe it stand in a different point in the mission than it actually was.
“The plan was for Starliner to rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station and return home safely to Earth,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed. “While a lot of things went right, the uncrewed spacecraft did not reach the planned orbit and will not dock to the International Space Station. This is in fact why we test. Teams worked quickly to ensure the spacecraft was in a stable orbit and preserved enough fuel to ensure a landing opportunity.”
Ultimately, NASA, as well as Boeing, confirmed the craft had no issues in terms of hardware and it was purely a software issue.